News: ‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’: Alabama doctor on treating unvaccinated, dying COVID patients


Dr. Brytney Cobia said Monday that all but one of her COVID patients in Alabama did not receive the vaccine. The vaccinated patient, she said, just needed a little oxygen and is expected to fully recover. Some of the others are dying.

“I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections,” wrote Cobia, a hospitalist at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, in an emotional Facebook post Sunday. “One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”

…For the first year and a half of the pandemic, Cobia and hundreds of other Alabama physicians caring for critically ill COVID-19 patients worked themselves to the bone trying to save as many as possible.

“Back in 2020 and early 2021, when the vaccine wasn’t available, it was just tragedy after tragedy after tragedy,” Cobia told this week. “You know, so many people that did all the right things, and yet still came in, and were critically ill and died.”

In the United States, COVID is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated, according to the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Alabama, state officials report 94% of COVID hospital patients and 96% of Alabamians who have died of COVID since April were not fully vaccinated.

“A few days later when I call time of death,” continued Cobia on Facebook, “I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same.”

“They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”

More than 11,400 Alabamians have died of COVID so far, but midway through 2021, caring for COVID patients is a different story than it was in the beginning. Cobia said it’s different mentally and emotionally to care for someone who could have prevented their disease but chose not to.

“You kind of go into it thinking, ‘Okay, I’m not going to feel bad for this person, because they make their own choice,’” Cobia said. “But then you actually see them, you see them face to face, and it really changes your whole perspective, because they’re still just a person that thinks that they made the best decision that they could with the information that they have, and all the misinformation that’s out there.

“And now all you really see is their fear and their regret. And even though I may walk into the room thinking, ‘Okay, this is your fault, you did this to yourself,’ when I leave the room, I just see a person that’s really suffering, and that is so regretful for the choice that they made.”

I notice a lot of right-wing Christians say we’re over-reacting to Covid. Well, what is the appropriate reaction to 4.1 million deaths and counting from a virus? What would Jesus say? No big deal, bro, it’s just the flu?

I interviewed Christian intellectual Andy Nowicki last week.
Luke: “When did you start to take Covid seriously?”
Andy: “Never.”

Most dissident right Christians I know take the same attitude. I think this is a mistake for them as individuals, as Americans and as Christians because this nonchalance is decidedly at odds with the deadly facts on the ground.

Los Angeles Times, July 20, 2021:

U.S. life expectancy fell by 1.5 years in 2020, largest drop since World War II

U.S. life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II, according to report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The decrease for both Black Americans and Latino Americans was even greater: three years.

Close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline was due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in U.S. history, with COVID-19 accounting for about 11% of those deaths…

Killers other than COVID-19 played a role. Drug overdoses pushed life expectancy down, particularly for whites. And rising homicides were a small but significant reason for the decline for Black Americans…

For decades, U.S. life expectancy was on the upswing. But that trend stalled in 2015 before hitting 78 years, 10 months, in 2019. Last year, the CDC said, it dropped to about 77 years, 4 months.

Other findings in the new CDC report:

• Black life expectancy dropped to 71 years, 10 months. It has not been that low since 2000.

• White life expectancy fell by roughly 14 months to about 77 years, 7 months. That was the lowest life expectancy for that population since 2002.

• COVID-19’s role varied by race and ethnicity. The pandemic was responsible for 90% of the decline in life expectancy among Latinos, 68% among white people and 59% among Black Americans.

• Life expectancy fell nearly two years for men, but about one year for women, widening a long-standing gap. The CDC estimated life expectancy of 74 years, 6 months, for boys versus 80 years, 2 months, for girls.

More than 80% of last year’s COVID-19 deaths were people 65 and older, CDC data show. That reduced the pandemic’s toll on life expectancy at birth, since it is swayed more by deaths of younger adults and children than those among seniors.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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